Writing always has its challenges but sometimes prevailing conditions and circumstances make it much more difficult than usual. For me, this is one of those times. Things felt different a few days ago. There were serious problems to be considered, of course, but our nation seemed to be beginning to relax from years of COVID restrictions and mandates. Optimism and hope were being revived, laughter was returning, and things were feeling more normal again. It was an encouraging atmosphere. But then everything changed. Another greedy, narcissistic human being intoxicated with ambition and authority decided to unleash his murderous military power on innocent people and create another deadly war.
Unanticipated Conditions ~
So, this weekend, our post will be going up while producers of nearly every media platform are indulging in endless reports of more bloodshed, devastation, hopelessness, and misery. What message do we followers of Jesus present in a world once again assailed with fear and anxiety? There are some obvious possibilities, but they just didn’t feel right. Instead, I couldn’t pull my mind away from a brief and unusual moment that happened recently during a walk around our neighborhood.
While walks are part of an ongoing physical therapy regimen in the aftermath of numerous joint replacements and other related surgical interventions, they’re more than that. They provide some good one-on-one time in a couple of ways. If my wife comes along, we get to enjoy some pleasant time free from the distractions and busyness that so often occur inside the house. If not, it’s great for some one-on-one time with God and just enjoying nature, especially if the weather’s nice. But on the day God chose to use as a backdrop for one of His teaching sessions, it was different.
A Captivating Surprise ~
It was so cold that day, I had to pull out the parka I used in Alaska and some other cold weather gear that I hadn’t needed in years. It was mid-afternoon and the sun was shining, but none of the sun’s heat seemed to make its way to earth. I trudged along trying to coax my joints to move a little faster by reminding them of my warm and inviting recliner back home. My face, which was the only exposed part of me, was so cold my lips were numb when something totally unexpected happened. I suddenly felt this incredible warmth bathing my face like a soft blanket. I stopped because it was instantly mesmerizing. My mind abandoned whatever it had been engaged in, and I was left with no words, just the most pleasant sensation I had felt all day, and likely longer than that. An intense feeling of gratitude flooded my heart and I choked back tears as a ‘different’ awareness formed. I had inadvertently stumbled onto something that God didn’t want me to forget.
The simple explanation for the unanticipated warmth on my face that day was that the rays of the afternoon sun had reflected off a window in such a way that the warm beam was in perfect alignment with the only part of my body that could have felt it. The sun was shining everywhere, but until that moment, I hadn’t felt its effect at all. It was not until a nondescript window pane, which had no heat of its own to offer, collected those rays and reflected them toward me that I felt anything different.
Initial Observations ~
A few things that God reminded me of that day seem relevant in today’s world. To begin with, there’s accepting the realization that we’re only conduits for what God has to offer, not the source. The warmth that I felt didn’t originate in the piece of glass that reflected it, but the glass was a vital piece of the process. The power in that beam of light would not have reached me without that window pane. The glass not only reflected the light, but the warmth in its rays was multiplied in the process. Jesus made it clear that He is the Light, but that Light isn’t confined just to Him. He sends its power and benefits out to us as well.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)
Though I didn’t purposely orchestrate that intersection with the warmth He provided, everything depended on making personal contact. Had the beam of light not touched the only part of me that could feel it, I would have never known it existed. And then there’s the power of the contrast. That’s what made it noticeable, memorable, and significant to me. The difference between what I was feeling before and what I felt when it contacted my face was dramatic. Had it not been so different from the biting cold on my face, I might never have noticed it at all.
A Vital Element ~
So, here’s the lesson . . . We’ve been sent into a world more frightened, anxious, miserable, and distressed than we can begin to understand, and we have nothing in and of ourselves to offer them. God, on the other hand, does. He wants to draw their minds and hearts away from the conflict, to pull them out of the quicksand, to illuminate a path out of their darkness. But first, He needs to get their attention. That’s where we come in. It isn’t up to us to decide who to touch with whatever we think they need from God. Our job is just to gather the rays that He sends our way and reflect them out to a lost and hopeless world. Our task is to be willing to be such an obvious and uplifting contrast to the chaotic world around us that others are bound to notice, and that some will never forget.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, I don’t know when or where you first felt the touch that God used to get your attention. I don’t know what parts of your life might have been the most miserable, or what it felt like when your heart began to be bathed in hope. Nor do I know what it might have been like for you when the warm light of redemption filled that lonely, isolated room where the real you was hiding, but I know this . . . You weren’t drawn to Him because someone was shouting the same obscenities that you might also have been shouting. You didn’t see a way out by following the same deceptive road map that led you into the wilderness where you ran out of options. I know that singing songs filled with anarchy and filth never filled your heart with praise and gratitude until you thought you’d explode. And you didn’t find cleansing and freedom by playing in the world’s cesspool. No one escapes the misery of the world by indulging in more of it.
So, here’s the point . . . Somebody in this miserable world may be headed our way this week whose face needs to feel the touch of something different. Someone needs to feel the warm glow of God’s incredible, undeserved, love in an unexpected and personal way. God wants to get someone’s attention, and all He needs to accomplish that is a few ordinary window panes like us. He needs someone with the courage to display His light in a way that challenges the turmoil going on around us.
It was just a warm moment on a cold day. It didn’t change the surrounding temperature or alter weather patterns, but God used it to draw my attention toward Him. Eternal possibilities await when something like that happens.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “The difference between what I was feeling before and what I felt when the warmth contacted my face was dramatic. Had it not been so different from the biting cold on my face, I might never have noticed it at all.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “It isn’t up to us to decide who to touch with whatever we think they need from God. Our job is to gather the rays He sends our way and reflect them out to a lost and hopeless world as such an obvious contrast that some will never forget.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “You didn’t find cleansing and freedom by playing in the world’s cesspool. No one escapes the misery of the world by indulging in more of it.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Someone needs to feel the warm glow of God’s incredible, undeserved love in an unexpected and personal way. God wants to get someone’s attention, and all He needs to accomplish that is a few ordinary window panes like us.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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© 2022 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
Thank you so much for such an encouraging and insightful post. The following got my attention and spoke to my heart. Thank you.
“we’re only conduits for what God has to offer, not the source.”
“the power of the contrast”
“God wants to get someone’s attention, and all He needs to accomplish that is a few ordinary window panes like us.”
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Thank you so much for your gracious and encouraging response. It’s fascinating how many things God uses to reveal profound principles. God bless you for taking the time to share your thoughts at a time when we have such a need to support each other.
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Oh, you can bet that I’m posting this next week when my “anti-social media” fast is over Mr. Ron. Perhaps the best post I’ve ready from you; and my friend, that is a an amazingly long list! My first reaction was “Woo boy, my pal Mr. Ron just got a “Heart Hug”, which of course, warmed mine.” The second reaction was much like the pastors we probably grew up with. I felt like jumping from the pulpit and landing smack dab in the center aisle, about the third row of pews back. Exclaiming a hearty “Amen”, I fear I woke my Ms. Diane from her nap. “That’s the secret!” I shouted. “It’s not what we do, but what we enable God to do through us.” Far too many of us Christians, or supposed Christians, have forgotten that important lesson. We are less than worthless on our own. Perhaps, the chemicals and precious metals trapped in our cells, is worth about $0.67 cents (my guess), but when God breathes life into it, the value goes up astronomically. In fact, depending on how much you surrender yourself to God, I would argue “Priceless”! Amazing and inspiring post sir. Thank you so much for energizing my faith this day. God’s blessings to you and your Ms. Diane.
I’m the late one being late today, J.D. Diane and I were out running around and away from my computer until late yesterday evening and we hit the ground running this morning with early church duties, etc. So, I’m just now able to settle down and try to figure out how to respond to more kindness and grace than a garden variety sinner like me could ever deserve. You’re like a storage depot of encouragement for so many of us who have learned to love the Cross-Dubya and everybody connected with it. We’re all blessed and strengthened to know you’re standing in the ranks alongside us. As you know all too well, the battles going on in Ukraine aren’t the only ones being fought against odds that look insurmountable–and as important as the outcome of that conflict is, the one Jesus’ followers are waging against the devil dwarfs anything on the world stage right now. The devil and his crowd just laughs at us when we strut around in our ecclesiastical Pharisee robes with our psycho-babble Christianity, but they tremble when we fall on our knees in surrender and let Jesus have sovereign authority over everything in us that He died to redeem. The only thing the enemy can’t overcome is the presence of the One who already defeated every weapon he threw at Him. God bless you for being such an available and effective “window pane,” J.D., and for reflecting our way all those rays He keeps bouncing off you.
These are troubling times, my friend, but God didn’t send us out to organize and conduct a church picnic (not that I’m opposed to a picnic or two along the way). He sent us to deliver a counter-cultural message to an oppositional world. That
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“Eternal possibilities await . . .”
Oh, my, Ron, what an incredible moment that was for you! I got goose (God) bumps just reading your account. May we be that one window pane willing to reflect Jesus’ light and warmth to someone who is hurting and in need. Our world is upside down, and we can be part of God’s process to turn it right side up again (as you recount in your book). Prayers today and every day for the victims of this terrible conflict that is consuming the news.
Blessings, my friend!
Forgive me for being late getting back to you for your gracious and encouraging comment, Martha, but I’m deeply grateful for your kind words. Both of us know well how impotent we are on our own, and how wonderful it is that God is willing to use us in the process of transmitting His love and grace to world reeling in misery. God bless you for your faithfulness in keeping those beams of hope going out.